Uh-Oh. How The Cold And Snowy Winter May Cost Us

It’s been a pretty crazy winter here in Michigan.  We’re in the top three in terms of seasonal snowfall record.  Between January 14th and February 17th, we had one day where it went above freezing.  By exactly one degree.  We had the snowiest January on record, and February has been no slouch.

This combination has led to snow piles growing and growing.  Certainly not melting.

And, this could potentially have very negative consequences as it turns out.

As many long time readers know, we enjoy camping, and we have a trailer type RV that we pull around.  It’s lightweight, which works out well since we have a mid-size SUV.

A few weeks ago, after one big snowfall, I wondered aloud whether I should go over to my in-laws (where we store it for the winter), and clean off any snow from the roof.  This was probably closer to mid-January when we had no idea the cold spell we’d see.  My wife didn’t think it was necessary.  My father-in-law didn’t seem to think it would be an issue.  Other things came up.  I kind of forgot about it.  And that was that.

Turns out, I probably should have trusted my gut.

Last weekend we were going to my in-laws and I decided I wanted to poke my head inside and make sure everything looked good.  I also wanted to grab a couple of things from inside.

It’s stored on the side of the house, and there isn’t any traffic.  Nor is there much sun.

I trudged through the snowpile to the door, and noted, wow, that’s covered with a lot of snow.

I went inside and took a look around.  The first thing I wanted to make sure was that there wasn’t evidence of any pests.  It all looked good.

The next thing I wanted to make sure was that there was no evidence of leaking.  I looked all around the places where I know would be water entry points, and it looked solid.  I gave everything a once over, grabbed the couple of items I was looking for, when I happened to look down the center of the unit.

And noticed that it looked a bit stretched in the middle.

It turns out that the weight of all that snow, for such a long period of time, may not have been such a great idea.  I should have trusted my gut.

I did some non-scientific measurements to show that it did indeed look like things had gotten a little saggy.  I did this by taking a knife from the silverware drawer, and putting it atop my head.  I measured the remaining distance between the top of the knife and the ceiling, and there does appear to be 1 – 1.5″ variation between what I think is the low point and the area along the sides.

Crap.

This is not good.

I went out and immediately got to work on clearing as much snow from the roof as I could.  I left about 4-6 inches on there, only because that was pretty packed down.  You don’t want to rub the shovel (or in this case, the roof rake) against the rubber membrane as that can cause a breach.

The question at this point is whether there is a breach.

I know that the area in the center had sunk a little anyways based on something that happened a couple of years ago.  When the units are built, they are pretty flat with maybe a slight slope from the center down.  Our repair dealer noted that the air conditioner had caused some sag due to some improper bolting practices during the manufacture of the unit.  This was, unfortunately, something that many other owners of similar units reported, but because of the age of the unit (it was built in 2004), Jayco was not acknowledging or assisting in any way.

At that point, they took care of the necessary repairs, but they pointed out that it did cause some shift in the roof angles due to the weight not being distributed properly.

So, my guess is that there was already somewhat of a weak point in this area, which may have led to the snow pack causing some sag.

The question is what will the impact be.

Best case scenario – None.  As I said above, the roof angle was changed since the A/C was sitting there incorrectly for roughly eight years.  During that time, it didn’t cause any leaks.  We also had all of the seals re-done as a preventative measure.  The roof is rubber and the seals are made of flexible material, so there’s a chance that the materials would keep the seals intact.

Worst case scenario – If the seals didn’t hold, there will be leaks once the snow starts to melt.  Which could start as soon as today, as we are finally due for a few days of above freezing temperatures.  I’ve asked my father-in-law to poke his head in and check things out.  If it looks dry, we may have dodged a bullet, but if not, we could be in for a heap of trouble.  After doing some research, it looks like it could leak not only at the weak spot, but there’s also a risk that it could leak around the perimeter.  Since the weight is pulling it down at the center of the roof, this means that it could also be pulling it slightly upward along the edge.  If that were to happen, this could cause leaks within the walls, down to the floor, and would be a major mess.

Lucky it’s insured, but honestly, this would not be a claim I want to make.  Who knows what the repair process would entail, not to mention when it would be repaired?  Based on how it’s stored, could it even be removed from it’s present location?  If it did damage the walls and flooring, who knows if it would ever be the same?  Or how long it would take?

So, I’m hoping for the best.

Actually, the best is that maybe it’s just my imagination.  Maybe the entire problem with the bolts and such caused it to sag and what I’m seeing now is no change from that time.

Actually, let’s hope for that scenario.

I’ll keep you posted.

6 thoughts on “Uh-Oh. How The Cold And Snowy Winter May Cost Us”

  1. Yikes, yeah that wouldn’t be a very fun claim to make. It also wouldn’t be much fun to find out that there’s a leak while you’re in it during a driving rainstorm while camping. Hoping for the best….looking forward to hearing what the outcome is!

  2. Whoa, the mid-west and east coast has been walloped with snow storm after snow storm. Hopefully, the camper will be fine after all the snow melts. Is there anyway to build a covered parking area for it over the summer for next winter? That could be a possible solution, then you wouldn’t have to worry about another polar vortex winter!

    • I’m hoping that this winter is just a one-off. We haven’t had one quite like this since 1978 or so I’ve been told. I’m thinking that next year I might just store it in the storage yard that we use for the camping season. It’s near our house, it’s wide open, meaning it gets sun, which I think would have helped the case to melt at least a little bit of it along the way. As it stands now, I move it to save about $200 in storage fees for when we’re not using it, but maybe it’s worth the extra cost.

  3. Hopefully it turns out okay. Its hard enough to think about moving the snow off driveways, sidewalks, and roofs, let alone worry about keeping a camper cleared. We’ve had a ton of snow here in Northern WI, with more coming tomorrow. I’m holding out hope for an early start to spring!

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